Likely, your creativity is more expensive than you can fork over all at once. Life is already expensive without that which your family and friends may “lovingly” call a... dare I say... a hobby. Gasp! Yes, I said the “h” word. They think you have better things to do with your money and, while that may be so, most of us don’t have an extra chunk of change hanging around in our back pocket waiting to be spent. Whether you’re spending $20 or $20,000, here are some very practical money-saving habits. Really, you can apply this to anything. A down payment on a car or a house, a vacation, hair and makeup accessories, you name it. I applied all of these tips when I decided to go to Spain in college. Mind you, I was a full-time undergraduate working part-time, paying a car note, paying off a credit card, and living on food stamps. Alright, here we go!
1. Simply decide: Come to a firm resolution that your new so-n-so is that important. Getting off of the fence about it will be the reason you actually start to save.
2. Save what you can: Don’t be unreasonable with your savings. If you can’t afford to put away $100 every pay period, then come down to a manageable amount. Maybe you can set aside $20 at a time. That’s fantastic! Money in the bank! Sometimes, the resolve to save will come down to a matter of eating fast food for dinner, or saving that money and eating what’s at the house. Do you want that new-new or not?
3. Have a hard-to-get savings plan: Plan to put your extra dollars somewhere that isn’t easily accessible. You can open a savings account and have a small percentage—say 5-10%—automatically withdrawn from your paycheck. You can open it with a smaller bank or credit union to make withdrawal more of a chore to discourage yourself from impulse purchasing on your next egg.
4. Get a piggy bank: Okay, so I’m talking about the ones that don’t have the corks in the bottom. I mean the ones you have to break open with a hammer. You’ll be surprised when you build a habit of dropping money in the bank!
5. Get a “voice of reason”: I won’t call them accountabilities because, sometimes, those can be fighting words. If you’re not one to let just anyone into your personal business, then designate one friend to be your voice of reason. Once you’ve decided who that will be, give them permission to be the voice of reason and then let them! Don’t fight off your help if you’re serious about this.
These are some very practical tips that I have used over the years when I have a financial goal that I want to achieve. Because of this, I was able to study abroad in Spain, the most expensive trip that my university offered, and when I returned home, my bills were paid.
- Adrianne Marcia